Alternative holiday shows cater to adults of all ages

Story Kelundra Smith

The enchantment of the holidays is often reserved for the young, but sometimes grown-up audiences appreciate a little naughty laced with the niceness. At the time of year when family-friendly shows like “A Christmas Carol” command Atlanta’s stages, some theaters offer counter-programming that caters to the adult table. Leave the little kids at home for some extra cheer this season.

“The Waffle Palace Christmas”

Atlantans know that one of the few things open on Christmas in the South is Waffle House. Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee, the writing team behind Horizon Theatre’s runaway hit, “The Waffle Palace,” saw the venerable restaurant chain as the perfect setup for a comedy. In the wake of the play’s successful runs in 2012, 2013 and 2015, the long-time playwriting team took to Google to search for Waffle House holiday stories and found sentimental family gatherings, a news report of a man living on the roof of a North Carolina franchise and more. Armed with this information, Larson and Lee penned a sequel, “The Waffle Palace Christmas,” featuring a Krampus-inspired character to mess with the staff, patrons and even the audience.

And though there will be no shortage of hilarity and hijinks, Larson wants audiences to “go away with the feeling that the spirit of Christmas is indomitable.”

“A lot of the play is about how we adapt to the future, dealing with the owner of the place, technology and how we make that jump,” says Larson, who will also be performing. “Hopefully, it’s also about being able to change, accept the future and make the best of it without holding on to the past so hard that we destroy the good things that are already there. … I want the audience to leave with joy and hope no matter what holiday they celebrate.”

Returning members of the original cast include Allan Edwards (“Citizens Market”), Lala Cochran (“The Santaland Diaries”), Maria Rodriguez-Sager (“The Book Club Play”) and Marguerite Hannah (“Right On”).

Horizon Theatre Company, 1083 Austin Ave. Nov. 15-Dec. 30. 404-584-7450.

“Invasion: Christmas Carol”

Everyone knows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Cratchit family in Charles Dickens’ classic tale, but what about the part where Dracula enters? The improvisers at Dad’s Garage are back for the 10th holiday season of turning “A Christmas Carol” on its head.

“The audience knows the story and what it’s supposed to be, and they love watching the story and seeing it get changed,” says Matt Horgan, Dad’s Garage associate artistic director and company member. “There’s also the fun, charming torture aspect because the audience knows that the performers don’t know what’s going to happen. When something happens in improv, everyone is hearing it at the same time.”

Dad’s Garage, 569 Ezzard St. Nov. 30-Dec. 30. 404-523-3141.

“Curious Holiday Encounters”

7 Stages curates immersive performance experiences with their “Curious Encounters” series. Offering a mix of dance, music, monologues and video installations, audiences will be handed a map of performances upon entry and have the opportunity to create their own path throughout the space.

“It’s ultimately thinking outside of the box about what art can offer our humanity and culture,” says 7 Stages artistic director Heidi S. Howard. “It’s bringing people together and offering respite from our everyday life. That’s why we break away from the two hours of sitting in the dark to see a play and make it more immersive.”

This first-ever holiday edition will feature Little Five Points Rockstar Orchestra, Moving in the Spirit, Aris Theatre, the Weird Sisters Theatre Project, performer Rebekah Suellau and more.

7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave. Dec. 6-9. 404-523-7647.

“Santa After Hours”

After a couple of years of staging David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries,” the team at Out of Box Theatre in Marietta wanted to shake things up for the holidays. They invited cast members and writers to create holiday-themed sketches. The result, “Santa After Hours,” offers an evening of sketch comedy that includes drugging grandpa at Thanksgiving and a “Robin Hood” Santa who steals gifts from the rich and gives them to poor children. Expect the comedy content to be equivalent to a PG-13 movie.

Out of Box Theatre, 585 Cobb Pkwy., Marietta.

“Puddles Pity Party & Friends Holiday Jubilee”

America’s favorite sad clown, Puddles, achieved national attention with his rendition of Lorde’s “Royals” on “America’s Got Talent.” This year, he’s turning his pity party into a hometown holiday extravaganza. The evening of sing-alongs features Santa Claus, the theater’s Mighty Mo organ with Atlanta Braves organist Matthew Kaminski, and other surprise guests.

“I hope they leave with a cut in their strut, a glide in their stride and heart full of holiday cheer,” says Puddles, the alter ego of Atlanta-based baritone and pop singer Mike Geier, who was a regular performer in the off-Broadway immersive theatre experience “Sleep No More.” “There will be lots of Puddles Cuddles for whoever wants ‘em!”

The Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. Dec. 18. 404-881-2100.

Insider tip

On Nov. 21, the Strand Theatre’s third annual Pranksgiving comedy show features 10 of Atlanta’s best comedians.